Joe Genovese finds inspiration for his jewelry in many places. The owner of Genovese Jewelers may purchase a certain stone, like his recent investment in a 16-carat tanzanite, and design a ring around it. Or, he may see a piece his daughter is wearing and can imagine it transformed into fine jewelry with diamonds and white gold. Whatever the inspiration, the results produce one-of-a-kind pieces made in-house, which will soon be offered under a new, branded line. “We’ve gotten so good at the design and manufacturing process that it was time to launch our own line,” Genovese explains. “Those custom pieces are only able to be found at our store, and they’re not just American-made, they’re St. Louis-made.”
Established in 1981 by Michael Genovese, Genovese Jewelers has been manufacturing jewelry on-site for 22 years. Each year, Joe Genovese invests in purchasing the latest equipment or technology to design and produce custom pieces that make up 60 percent of the store’s inventory. Fourteen jewelers have been trained in-house, with three working on computer-aided designs and the rest focused on goldsmithing and diamond-setting. “They are unique pieces, and every day, there is new jewelry available in the showcases,” says Genovese, who is the store’s No. 1 designer.
Beyond the branded line, which will officially launch in 2013, Genovese manufactures other jewelry, including a line of larger pastel stones set in untarnished silver. The jeweler also offers a wide selection of popular items like diamond studs, hoops and tennis bracelets. “If you don’t have those three pieces, you have a hole in your jewelry wardrobe,” Genovese says.
Designing and producing its own jewelry at the 21,000-square-foot building allows the store to control costs, a major factor in the success of a jewelry business. “I buy the materials and already have the labor available,” Genovese points out. “On the other hand, with famous designers like David Yurman and Tacori, you’re paying a three-times premium just for the name.”
Cost control is especially important as prices for precious metals have soared, with gold currently at $1,700 per ounce. The high demand for diamonds also has outpaced the supply, creating upward pressure on prices, Genovese notes. “I’m fortunate that we buy in volume, but you have to be diligent about finding the right materials at the right prices.”
In addition, the selection of the other 40 percent of Genovese’s large inventory takes careful consideration. Buyer Katie Kelly focuses on selecting the right items from other jewelers and wholesalers, allowing for high turnover and preventing stale inventory, Genovese says. “If there are even three or four items out of the 14,000 we have in stock that we don’t sell in a year, I’d be surprised.”
The jeweler’s methods have allowed it to have record years repeatedly, despite the recession, and “things have never been better,” Genovese says. An emphasis on customer service, with pieces guaranteed for life, hopes to encourage customers to think of Genovese when they think of jewelry. With the arrival of the holiday season, the store is ready to help those customers find special gifts for their loved ones. “It’s a lot easier to pick out a piece of jewelry than a dress—every woman looks good in diamonds.”